Posts tagged couple therapy
When to ask for help

As a therapist and coach, one of the many questions I get asked is, "How do you know when it's time to ask for help?" I totally get why people ask this. It can be difficult to figure out when to say "when", especially if you're a high-functioning person like most of my clients are. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are three major signs you could benefit from some outside help:

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Is your relationship cheat-proof?

Let me answer that for you: No, it isn't. There’s no monogamous relationship that’s 100% guaranteed safe from an affair. Sometimes feelings develop for other people. It's only natural. But it can be a signal that something is missing from your relationship or your life.

So, what do you do if you or your partner gets feelings for someone else? This answer is often the key to whether or not your relationship survives an affair or even a potential affair.

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Is that how you REALLY feel?

When it comes to couples, a lot of people talk about "communication". Often we hear "A good relationship is all about communication" from advice givers or "We just didn't communicate" from recently broken hearts. Here's the thing: it's not that you communicate - because we all do, even when we're not speaking - it's how you communicate.

In love relationships, communication gets complicated. Because we've fallen intimately in love with someone, and they with us, we often expect them to know exactly what we need at all times. Why is it that we expect so much? I'm not completely sure why. Much of it has to do with attachment style, which dictates how we interact with others, but the rest seems to defy logic. Many times, we ask our partners to be superhumans - to behave in ways that are only agreeable to us and our wants and needs. If they don't, we get angry or upset and many times our partners have no idea why. Then they react, usually by either fighting back, going silent, or defending themselves in some other way. That's an all-too-familiar pattern that often brings couples to therapy.

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Five ways to get your money's worth from your therapist

I know, therapy is expensive. Like I said: it's helpful to think of it as an investment. You're investing in your self or your relationship or your family. You're giving your life a tune-up. It all costs money. You're putting yourself in the hands of a professional in order to do so. Someone who has been educated and trained for, at the very least, 5 years if he or she is licensed. This person should know their stuff and that can be intimidating. BUT, it doesn't mean your therapist should be telling you what to do and it doesn't mean you can't trust your gut. In fact, your counselor should be encouraging you to trust and depend upon yourself. Here's a short  list of advice on getting your money's worth from therapy:

1. Ask questions, debate points, and give feedback Ask for what you need. If you don't understand something your therapist says, ask. If you disagree with something she says, say so. This doesn't mean you shouldn't listen to her, but when something feels inherently wrong, just way off from who you are, SAY SOMETHING. It doesn't help you at all to stay mute on the subjects that really rile you up. Again, your therapist is not your friend; she is providing you with a service. Having said that, however you must understand that you also have to...

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Congratulations, you've found your therapist! Now what?

It's the 1st session. You're nervous, asking yourself questions like "What will she be like? Will he think we're crazy? What have I gotten myself into?" If you've never been to a therapist before, it's like walking into a small room with a stranger who has agreed to take your money to provide you with a product you know little about. It can be weird and feel awkward. You're taking a big risk entrusting someone else with your problems, with your life. And kudos to you for your courage! I want to try to make it all a little less daunting, so here's a brief guide of what to expect when you walk into a therapist's office for the first time:

When you get there, you will be greeted with the usual pleasantries and a bit of small talk, but eventually you'll have to get serious. Your therapist will soon ask "what brings you here today?" You may have talked about it on the phone prior to your appointment, but some version of this question will be posed to bring the focus to exactly why you're paying to be there. Attempt to be as honest as you comfortably can be. It's natural to feel strange about telling someone you've never met your most hurtful problems. You don't have to say everything, just try to be truthful. This can be extremely difficult when you've come to therapy with a spouse and it's the therapist's responsibility to help you feel as safe as possible in his or her space. This is YOUR time. Use it wisely.

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